Monument To No One
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Monument To No One

Band Alternative Rock


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"Compilation review"

17. Monument To No One – Planetary (from the album Monument To No One)

I’m not sure what it is about Austin, Texas that screams “space rock,” but Monument To No One are the latest band from the prestigious city to burst out on the scene. On their self titled debut, the quartet show their penchant for endlessly walloping guitar feedback and distortion, sharp precision snare work, and hypnotic warping grooves. The guitars shimmer off each other through lengthy compositions, proving Monument To No One’s flair for mind expanding psychedelic exploration that sets them apart from the pack. Their music is raw and corrosive, with treacherous riffs and battering drum fills that drift into another dimension. - willowz

"Austin Sound Review"

"Across the album, on songs like the opener “Planetary” and “Blasting Sound”, a wall of swirling guitars move from shoegazing crescendos into pumping alt-rock anthems. Slate and his bandmates create something between Sparta and Dischord alumni such as Jawbox." -

"Blog Review"

Thursday, October 15, 2009
Older Gods
Monument to No One
Headhunter's, 10/14

Here's another one of these little object lessons upon which I do so dearly love to lecture. Monument to No One are putting the work in, and I don't just mean when it comes to their songs, which are varied and interesting. I see people wearing their t-shirts at shows. Sure, some of them might be members of the band, but it still counts. I see their stickers in men's rooms. I came out of the Sunny Day Real Estate show and there was their drummer, handing out free CD's and getting the word out about his band. The extra effort that they have made to make people aware of the music they are creating makes a difference. Nothing comes for free, unless you're some kind of preternatural native genius, and if there's any of those playing free shows in Austin on Wednesday nights I haven't yet encountered them.

If I wasn't so impressed by MTNO's efforts to do their utmost for their band, I might have left their show last night early. A broken string and a busted pedal, on the first song, slowed their momentum and left their stage sound treble-heavy and ear-piercing for their next several songs post-restringing. Drummer Dan Skarbek kept things together during this difficult period with solid time (much better than on the self-released CD), even though the muddy sound left the bass inaudible and Eli Slate struggling with his vocals. Because they work hard and they know what they ought to sound like, Monument to No One kept it together and by the time they hit their signature tune, "Planetary," they were downright killing it. The way that they can bury their guitars in overlapping tides of effects then snap back into consonance on cue is impressive. Slate and Steve Anderson back to back churning out harmonized leads is a rock spectacle out of all proportion with Headhunter's tiny stage space.

The degree to which their sound has matured even since the recording of their CD is impressive. Skarbek and bassist Mike McKinnon are carving out their own place in the songs, and when the whole band really gets together -- or pulls out just for a second so both guitars can go "screee!" -- it's exciting to hear and fun to watch. They still have some work to do finding a way to keep their music both loud and audible. This is powerful stuff and it should be presented at high volume. But some thought needs to be put into how the guitars are amplified and equalized so that when the bass ventures upward the audience isn't totally buried in layers of midrange. Likewise, Skarbek's drumming, which has good meter and a slightly Nick Mason-like behind-the-beat style, would have more impact were there more space in the sound field for his cymbal work to ring out clearly. Slate's vocals sound better when he's singing confidently from his chest rather than straining in his head voice; again I think that's more of an issue that stems from the sound mix.

By the time they closed things out they seemed like a different band than the one that had jammed awkwardly while Anderson changed strings on his SG. They were moving around, rocking out, finally showing some outward confidence. You like to see constant forward progression in developing bands and that was this set in a nutshell. Good work, guys. - Big Western Flavor -

"Album Review 11/17/09"

If members of Hum and Gish-/Siamese Dream-era Smashing Pumpkins had ever collaborated and traded off instruments at random during the production of an album, the end result would have sounded a lot like Monument to No One’s self-titled debut. Although taking the Austin band more than a year to finish, this 9-track effort was definitely worth the wait.

While the band may be a monument to no one in particular, it is certainly a monument to the highly influential sounds of the ’90s midwest indie rock scene. Even the song titles, straightforward and uncomplicated by unnecessary creativity, read like the debut album of any ’90s giant.

Definitely rhythm-oriented, MTNO’s brilliance shifts between layers of evenly-fuzzed and super clean guitar, passing between shadow and light on any given track. The end result is not just a richly dynamic song, but an overall dynamic listening experience from ‘Planetary’ to the unapologetically Hum-inspired ‘Day of Reckoning’ (I had to check my iTunes library to ensure I hadn’t shuffled to another album).

Front man Eli Slate’s vocals, like the drifting guitars, switch from a melancholic monotone to a laconic angst as he displays a controlled tonal range, capturing perfectly the mood and ambience of each song. Slate and lead guitarist Steve Anderson show exceptional synchronization with one another, sometimes blending their two guitars into one huge distorted power chord, or accenting uncommon chord progressions with charged solos, and bassist Mike McKinnon does a superb job of alternating the allegiance of his distinguished hooks between Dan Skarbek’s masterful drumming and the powerful chorus of guitars.

Despite the album’s long production stages, the songs work well to further accentuate MTNO’s charismatic appeal. They reveal less of a largely incongruous collection of tracks and more of an exemplary dynamism: music that advances and retreats, curving adventurously outward and inward like the bold lines of the of the enigmatic statues depicted on their album cover. - Echo Zine

"Not Just Another Debut"

MTNO’s debut LP captures the brazen guitar riffs and honed psychedelic leanings that have made the band popular at venues around the Lone Star State. Much of the album functions as most debuts do, collecting the better moments of live performances into a studio-shined souvenir (completed with a few jokes, i.e. track 6, Don’t Tase Me, Bro), but there are pockets of real accomplishment and promise for the band. A good portion of the album is a wash of goes-to-11 guitars, but when the band do slow it down, their impeccable knack for crafting perfect textures with nice crunchy guitar tones and a snare drum that would make Jim O’Rourke cry, not to mention tight playing of well-written arrangements – you know, good music stuff – all have the chance to show through what could easily have turned into just another debut. - Side One: Track One


Monument to No One - available via iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp. Airplay via KOOP, KTSW and KROX.



Monument To No One began in early 2006 when leader singer/guitarist Eli Slate started to record demos of his songs with his brother, Jesse, both Pittsburgh, PA, natives who had recently relocated to Austin. The brothers were in need of a drummer to fill out the sound and perform live so a listing was posted to the Austin Chronicle’s musician classifieds section where Dan saw it and inquired.

Dan had recently moved to Austin in October 2005 after escaping the floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina that totaled his house. Having been working in the music industry at local tourist trap and historic jazz Mecca, Preservation Hall, Dan made the move to Austin almost immediately after hearing of a job opening. Dan landed in Austin working for Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel as a Production Coordinator and after trying his hand at country music and trying to rekindle some music with his former New Orleans transplant band, Mumpsie, Dan joined up with Eli and Jesse and began gigging around town towards the end of 2006. It wasn’t until almost a year later that Steve joined the band adding a dueling guitar act that opened the sound up to more improvisation and the almighty guitar solo.

Steve Anderson hails from the North Dallas area, where he grew up heavily influenced by the mid-90's Denton-Dallas rock scene. From Fry Street to Deep Ellum, emotive bands such as Funland, Course of Empire, Doosu, and the Toadies shaped his musical tastes and instilled within him a burning desire to play the guitar very loud in a way that would turn some ears. Steve re-located to Austin in 1996, where he began playing in local space rock bands Pedal and Aphid, both of which received glimmerings of local press just before breaking up. Pedal's only EP, Cinderblocks and Lifejackets, was released with radio buzz, snagging them a 101X FM Homegrown Live spot. Aphid released three EP's (Better Days, Arlyn Sessions, Postmortem) and performed relentlessly in and around the Austin area before splitting up in 2005.

Sometime in mid 2007, Steve met Eli at a local club, and recognized in him a fertile sonic kinship that could be grown into a decibel shattering musical force. No longer content to write and demo songs in his basement by himself, he joined Monument To No One in late '07 after some not-insignificant begging and "love knife" behavior on his part.

The current lineup was not solidified until the middle of 2008 when Jesse left the band to pursue a career with bicycling and hopes of a trip to Tour de France. Mike responded to a posting on Craigslist and became a full time member after the first audition. Mike is a refugee of the fertile Central Arkansas DIY scene of the 90's and spent the past 15 years playing in a variety of punk, prog, and synth-pop bands in Arkansas, North Carolina and Texas. Mike's style is unique, specializing in a melodic, some might say Entwistle-esque lead-style on the 4-string bass.

MTNO’s new self-titled album was recorded and pressed in Austin, TX. The studio tracks were recorded at Out the Woodwork Studio in 2008 with Kenny Wayne Sheppard’s soundman, Brett Orrison, and former soundman for The Black Angels, Galactic and current Antone’s production manager, Myles Crosby. Steven DeGennaro recorded the live tracks at The Jam Room over New Years weekend 2009.